Army suicides double 2003 rate – highest level since VietNam
Suicides among soldiers in 2008 rose for the fourth year in a row, reaching the highest level in nearly three decades.
At least 128 soldiers killed themselves last year, and the Army suicide rate surpassed that for civilians for the first time since the Vietnam War, according to Army statistics. The suicide count, which includes soldiers in the Army Reserve and the National Guard, is expected to grow; 15 deaths are still being investigated, and the vast majority of them are expected to be ruled suicides, Army officials said…
“This is not business as usual,” said Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the vice chief of staff of the Army, who is leading suicide-prevention efforts. “We need to move quickly to do everything we can to reverse the very disturbing number of suicides we have in the U.S. Army.”
The Army did not identify a specific reason for the increase, but officials said 15-month deployments to war zones played a role. These deployments, which have allowed for little time away from the battlefield, have contributed to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, alcohol abuse and family problems…
The most common factors in suicides were financial, personal and legal problems, as well as job-related difficulties, officials said…
The Army said that in the last year it had hired more general practitioners, often the first health care providers to come into contact with soldiers in distress. It also hired 250 more providers of mental health care, and wants to hire an additional 50.
“We are hiring, and we need your help,” said Col. Elspeth Ritchie, a psychiatric consultant to the surgeon general of the Army.
Needing help is putting it mildly. Everything your body and mind requires to survive a war zone has increased in impact. Especially the impact of explosion, concussion effects. That ain’t going to ease.
But, the amount of time spent in a war zone is something that was brutally skewed over the years of Bush’s Wars. That’s one extreme factor added to the equation of emotional destruction – courtesy of the rightwing chickenhawks who hadn’t a clue about warfare from an individual perspective.